Saturday, 29 January, 2022
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EDITORIAL

Growing Omicron Threat



The country on Friday recorded 24 new Omicron cases along with a spike in daily coronavirus infections that has now crossed over 500 since the last week of October 2021. The detection of Omicron variants among the infected Nepalis and a sudden rise in the virus cases compelled the government to sit with the COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee (CCMC) to take stock of the current situation. The government has asked the CCMC to take all necessary measures to contain the virus, especially in the wake of new Omicron variants. This variant of the virus is said to be spreading faster than other variants and can cause a higher number of infections in a short period, thus putting pressure on our health facilities.

The new variant of the virus has indeed posed a serious threat to public health, which is why Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, the other day, held meeting with the concerned officials, frontline health workers and security personnel and instructed them to expedite the inoculation campaign and administer the booster shots to the needy ones. Chairing a meeting of the CCMC, PM Deuba directed officials to work towards providing booster jabs to those who have already taken two doses of jabs. Due to the growing threat of the fast-spreading Omicron variant, the meeting has decided to authorise the District CCMC to impose smart lockdowns after considering risks at the local level

For the effective control of the virus surge, measures such as discouraging people from gathering in large assemblies, shutting down schools, colleges, cinema halls, nightclubs should be adopted. If the infection keeps on increasing, then the Centre and local authorities may opt for smart lockdowns, or shutting down the areas where the infection rate is high. Given the spike in infection lately, the country must now take other measures to stop the virus from wreaking havoc on people's health. Besides, keeping all health facilities across the nation up to date by upgrading their capacity to handle the influx of infected patients, government authorities must go for tracing, testing and treating infected ones.

Tighter surveillance at the border entry points is highly imperative at this crucial juncture. Since India reported a new round of surges in infection rates with the rise in Omicron cases, Nepal needs to exercise a high level of caution not to allow Omicron variant to infect the people and strain the health services. Ramping up stricter quarantine protocols for those who enter Nepal from India is necessary. Many infected people were found coming to Nepal from India. Many returnees have failed to adhere to health safety protocols. The new coronavirus surge has given rise to fears that the country would once again see a total lockdown if all measures, including the smart lockdowns and stricter quarantine measures, failed to contain the virus. It is, therefore, better for our authority to adopt all stricter measures so that the country will not go through yet another round of total shutdown in the wake of a new variant of the virus and a higher rise in the number of infections.